By Meg Deak
The Haldimand Press
CALEDONIA—While only 13 years old, Jack Snell is already a championship racecar driver.
On September 26, 2021, Jack clinched the junior point series championship at Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga. It was a thrilling race weekend as the top three junior dragster racers were all tied going into the last event, but Jack won three rounds of very close racing to secure the victory and claim the title of Point Series Junior Dragster Champion. Now in Grade 8 at Caledonia Centennial Public School, Jack was one of the youngest in his racing cohort.
“Usually, juniors in their senior year, who are 17/18, win the championship,” explained Kate Snell, Jack’s mom. She and her husband are proud of their son and what he’s accomplished racing.
You could say racing is in Jack’s blood, as he is a third-generation racer. The family tradition started with Jack’s grandfather, who then encouraged Jack’s father, Jay Snell, to race.
Jay was the original ‘Caledonia Kid.’ He started racing at 16 and got the name as the youngest drag racer in the area. Jack is following in his father’s footsteps as ‘Caledonia Kid 2’, having started his racing journey at just 7 years old.
Two years ago, Kate also started racing.
Between street classes and racing, Jack and his family keep a hectic, busy schedule.They wouldn’t change anything however, as Jack and his father both describe loving the adrenaline and speed that comes with racing.
“Going down the track, it feels like you’re flying,” Jay said.
Kate and Jay both agree that track people are different people. She explained, “When you are a drag racer, it’s in your blood. It’s not uncommon for drag racers to meet and get married on the track.”
Although they all love racing, Jack is the most competitive: “Jack likes to win,” Kate said.
Racing season starts in May and goes into October. Through the season the family goes to the track at least a couple times a month. A lot of hard work goes into the sport, both on the track and in the garage, and Jay has always told Jack: “You have to learn to build the car if you want to race it.”
“It teaches Jack life skills, like changing a tire,” Kate noted, adding that time spent together doing activities is always a benefit. “It keeps the family connected and off their iPads.”
Jack has learned a lot about how to upgrade and fix his car so it’s track ready. He and his father also painted Jack’s car themselves and included the original logo for Snell racing. Jack’s car is a five-horsepower, single-cylinder engine, half scale dragster that reaches speeds of 85m/h (137km/h); Jack can drive an eighth mile in 7.9 seconds.
While all car racers drive fast, drag racing is different than Nascar racing, which moves around an oval track instead of along a strip.
“It requires more skill than Nascar racing,” Jack said of drag racing. “You have to know the engine and you can’t go too fast.”
Kate added, “Every car is different, so it requires skill to learn.”
Volunteers are an important part of drag racing, and racers are known for helping each other out.
“Snell Racing would like to thank the Race Cayuga Sportsman Series (RCSS) for all their hard work and countless volunteer hours to make the series run. If it weren’t for them, there would be no point series for racers at Toronto Motorsports Park,” Kate said.
Every time they’re at the track, the family reminds Jack how proud his grandpa would be. Although his grandfather is no longer with them, his spirit lives on through the family’s racing.
Next up, the family will be cheering Jack on at the Ontario Bracket Finals, hosted at Grand Bend Motorplex October 15 to 17.